Biden is scheduled to address the nation at 12 p.m. ET, and Biden is expected to unveil new measures that could isolate Russia from high technology, announce new restrictions on large financial institutions and impose sanctions on additional members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Biden’s sanctions now aim to punish, rather than prevent, Putin’s actions by going after Russia’s economy, its military capabilities, and those closest to the Russian president. However, the extent to which they can alter Putin’s decision-making in the future remains an open question.
Before speaking, Biden plans to consult with leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations about the sanctions they plan to impose, hoping to coordinate a response that anticipates unity among Western allies. US and European officials spoke by phone overnight through Thursday to coordinate their responses.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed Thursday morning to “weaken Russia’s economic base and capacity for modernization” in the wake of Russia’s “barbaric attack” on Ukraine.
“We will freeze Russian assets in the European Union and stop Russian banks’ access to European financial markets,” she said.
A White House official said Biden also convened a National Security Council meeting Thursday morning to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
Biden’s top national security aides held emergency meetings late Wednesday as Putin announced his plan for a “military operation” against Ukraine in a televised address. The speech was broadcast in Russia at the same time the United Nations Security Council was holding its meeting to condemn Moscow’s behaviour, catching some delegates by surprise.
Meeting in the West Wing, Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior officials prepared a statement from Biden condemning the Russian attack as “unprovoked and unjustified.”
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will lead to massive loss of life and human suffering,” Biden wrote in the statement released at 10:25 p.m. ET as the explosions began in Kiev.
An hour later, Biden was on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who reached out to the White House while his country was under siege.
“He has asked me to call on world leaders to speak out against President Putin’s blatant aggression, and to stand by the people of Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement afterward. He said the United States and its partners were planning to “impose severe sanctions on Russia.”
This story was updated with additional developments on Thursday.